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Investing in Quality vs. Senseless Waste of Money

Mr.Perdition

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At what point does one stop and the other begin? Inspired by some of the prices I've seen bandied about this forum for watches and some of the "What's in your bag" discussion.

Oh, and probably what some of my friends think of my own clothing purchases
wink.gif


Is it really a question of financial relativity?
 

Jared

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Every class of items has diminishing marginal returns, a large part of what we're all trying to do on here is figure out where the points of diminishing returns are. For example, I suspect there is a majority of members who believe that AEs represent such good value for the money that anything higher quality would be a "Senseless Waste of Money". Perhaps all of us share the great fear that the true point of diminishing returns is just above Walmart.
confused.gif
 

oldseed

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by definition, luxury is a waste of money.

seed
 

Newton

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Mr. Perdition, I'm one of the breed that thinks going beyond the AE type of category is a bit of a waste of time and money.

Then again, if you have a shoe fetish...

But for a good balance of practicality and price that's what I'd look at.
 

josepidal

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We all appear to have different thresholds. However, we all agree that money spent mainly on advertising and branding is a senseless waste, and some brands are simply overpriced despite incredible quality.
 

Film Noir Buff

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A very open ended question but one that would make for an interesting series of essays. We know people spend money in the USA on status. A car is a car is a car but some will spend no more than $20K and others no less than $80K. Are the differences really warranted? Some would say resoundingly NO and others would make arguments why the cars are better or worse. My parents always believed the neighborhood you lived in and the schools you attended were vastly superior to what car you drove. I have an uncle (fortunately by marriage) who bought all 4 of his children cars but refused to pay for their college tuitions. It's all about values, some of them you simply can't convince others to let go of because so many have ironclad reasons why their logic is correct. I have a school friend who reads my forum regularly and told me, "I never knew you spent so much on shirts. Anyone who spends more than $60 for a dress shirt is a psycho." I'm sure the $60 price tag would make someone in yet a different environment sick over the waste of it all.

A good intersection is quality vs. mark up. If the mark up is because the designer wants to create scarcity and thus cachet or just make money, then I generally avoid it. There are those brands and makers who charge more because they are the ones who can produce the goods. Here the cost is more relative to your desires.

Take shirt makers, there are some that charge less than the one I use and some who charge more. I have decided, based on my experience, tastes, observations of the various makes, that the one I use gives the best value for the money, irrespective of whether I like the price or not. In other words, I cant find another who charges less and makes anything near the same quality and aesthetic beauty and paying any more is simply burning money.

It is the same with suits only better. Of course I feel my tailor is the best in NYC, in terms of overall excellence, fit, quality of construction, lightness, uniformity of fit from customer to customer, uniformity of control over any and all fabrics, making people look admirable etc... It is true that some don't like what he makes, they want to look like what RL makes, or Thom Browne makes or what Armani or Cheo makes. That's fair enough as long as the vision of what you want aligns with the quality of what you're getting. What I'm saying here is that the customer has to WANT to value quality, propriety as part of the cross index and that there are many people who do not want a Corvato suit because they want to say they are wearing D&G. There are several layers and viewpoints about status. I generally eschew brands and also eschew a certain gimmick element to clothes in order to arrive at what's the "best" both objectively and subjectively.

In Mr. Corvato's case it is ironic that he makes one of the nicest suits and that he charges towards the lower end of the scale. Ironic because there are actually more than a few people who don't use him because he isn't highly priced (comparatively speaking). My observations are that most of the nouveau riche who buy custom suits decide that if a tailor isn't the most expensive how good can it be? It isn't true in all cases because most of his clients are arrivistes (New money keeps the custom trade alive) they just also seem to intuitively know they're getting great style and quality. Style is relative, unless you make efforts to figure out the language of its objective ideal. For me it's the absence of too much salient character in the suit which allows me to express me; for others it's being that guy with the umbrella in the drink. The world is large enough for different ideals of success to co-exist, but I feel I find a more universal appeal than most. When I stop getting compliments from people of all ages, backgrounds, national origins, political bents etc... Then I will realize I've lost touch.

Back to prices. After 7/8 years with Corvato, I can say he is just not a greedy person, and that's the bottom line. He has almost no turnover in his staff. He also doesn't bump up the price of cloth ordered for suits. If you want to pay $7,500 for a suit and you have the scratch, then that's of course your decision. Maybe it's worth more to you to be "exclusive" than to look your best. I have been blessed with some means and some taste and perhaps a head start in terms of learning about clothes (my parents like clothes) but I desire to actively discern that intersect of exclusivity and quality/style/value.

I have seen Loro Piana cashmere turtlenecks. They are exquisite; they are also far too expensive for what they are. Some people don't care because exclusion is everything (I am not immune from this) and they want to wear a sweater no one else can afford. It's again amusing to think that there are people clamoring to pay as much for a Borelli or Charvet shirt as a Paris Custom shirt not because of the price or qualitative concerns but because they want to feel like they've bought into a dream. It isn't much different than wearing legible clothing in the street wear sense of the word.

And as much as I look down on this, I am not adverse to it myself. I wear street wear, often legible, not because I like it but because I like clothes and having an effect. And legible clothing lends street credit for street wear. It's the same with certain hip items I can't resist. I love both Prada t-shirts and Versace silk shirts and black sweaters (also some Donna Karan) for wear with jeans or tailored jackets. Some of it is the cut and some of it is again the street credit you'll get with the gentler sex at a more refined level. I love John Smedley knit wear as well but it just doesn't have the sex appeal that Versace has.

I am a clothes wearing creature. Most of my decisions are based on pure quality/availability but some are about status. I sift and weigh what i am getting. What i won't do is spend too much on poor quality goods.


Edward Green shoes are like this too. I feel that the style, quality and comfort of the shoes warrant the price. Do I wish they were 400 dollars a pair? Oh you betchya but I would rather get one pair of those for two of something else. It is hard to replace the aesthetic, the comfort. I'm also a captive because I've been wearing them for a long time and I am just starting to appreciate how they look better over time.

And the sweaters and shoes bring up appropriateness. E. Green shoes are right for a certain look and a certain place just like Vass are also appropriate for a certain look and place. If both are beautifully made and the price is the same, how do you decide? Clothes do have some limitations. I wouldn't wear a Versace sweater to a Sunday brunch at a University club in Manhattan and I wouldn't wear Smedley (Although it would be easier to go this route) to a club in Brooklyn heights.

That's why forums could be a great resource. If people are honest and explain their objectivity about what they wear or experience, it could save people a lot of time and money. It isn't about financial comfort, some people like to spend money, others do not. It isn't about intelligence, it isn't about ethics, it is simply about interest in clothes. One guy buys his gf a dozen roses from the best place; does he always do it because he is wealthier? Another buys them from a cheap place, that always have to do with how much he has?

Who you are plays a part. If someone really loves clothes and saves up for a Corvato suit, one person admires his passion, another scoffs at him for being superficial. Does what you do or how much you would wear it play a part? Is it anyone's business but your own?

There are whole political cultures who would consider clothes lovers their mortal enemies, and yet they too are strangely not immune from status and quality in clothes. It would seem love of clothes and quality is more deeply embedded in the species than anyone would care to admit. The question is usually over costs of labor. Drakes ties are beautiful but we would all like them for $15 rather than $100. Which brings up yet another point, at what point does severing the capitalist's right to make a premium off of their labor collide with the consumer's desire to get something at cost?

This could all go on for hundreds of pages and maybe there is no answer for everyone. The trick is to understand you, to understand the nature of quality and to become a wardrobe engineer or costumer of sorts. That way you could approach the cost and value in terms of proper message. I get use out of my things. Ill bet Corvato makes an incredible set of tails but I don't use them. Maybe you could wait for sales or find the things in the secondary market or save up for what items are important.
 

Ivan Kipling

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I've always bought the best that I could afford. As a result, my house is now full of my clothes, and my sister's. We don't get rid of anything, because for the most part we like what we have, better than what's available right now. Same with shoes. Scarves, gloves, hats, whatever. Good things last a very long time. At this age, I buy hardly anything. My sister just does touch ups. The clothes she owns already, no longer exist in ready-to-wear . . . or, in couture, for that matter.
 

rnoldh

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I agree with 99% of what you say!

The fact that you took the time and effort to so expertly post your views shows your passion for the subject. Bravo!

It's NFL Sunday, so I'm in the the midst of the games (with a small financial stake, BTW). Wearing jeans (non-designer), Zegna cotton sport shirt, and Bass Weejuns.

I really didn't see anything that I disagreed with you on, but I'll take another look later.
 

itsstillmatt

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Originally Posted by rnoldh
I agree with 99% of what you say!

The fact that you took the time and effort to so expertly post your views shows your passion for the subject. Bravo!

It's NFL Sunday, so I'm in the the midst of the games (with a small financial stake, BTW). Wearing jeans (non-designer), Zegna cotton sport shirt, and Bass Weejuns.

I really didn't see anything that I disagreed with you on, but I'll take another look later.

For once I have to say that I do as well. I fear that your Versace sweaters may be sexier to the wrong crowd, but I do not know your exact proclivities
devil.gif
. Loro Piana's prices for cashmere sweaters have remained unbelievably constant for six or so years and they are no longer soooo expensive.
 

Soph

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Originally Posted by iammatt
For once I have to say that I do as well. I fear that your Versace sweaters may be sexier to the wrong crowd, but I do not know your exact proclivities
devil.gif
.

Loro Piana's prices for cashmere sweaters have remained unbelievably constant for six or so years and they are no longer soooo expensive.



If it wasn't Kiton about 8 months ago, it would be a waste of money. Now if it's not Rubinacci or Anna M. then it's all a waste of money
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fritzl

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Originally Posted by Ivan Kipling
I've always bought the best that I could afford. As a result, my house is now full of my clothes, and my sister's. We don't get rid of anything, because for the most part we like what we have, better than what's available right now. Same with shoes. Scarves, gloves, hats, whatever. Good things last a very long time. At this age, I buy hardly anything. My sister just does touch ups. The clothes she owns already, no longer exist in ready-to-wear . . . or, in couture, for that matter.

Simply the same strategy I started with. Due to my age there is still a bit of way to go but I can see the finnish line.

Only with my shoes I will not stop so early.
inlove.gif
As far as I live in Central Europe I have easy access to wonderful sources.
 

LARon

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My two cents: most, if not all, financial decisions are driven, in the end, by emotion. It doesn't matter whether we're talking about clothes, homes, stocks, companies, food, cars or education. When something inside drives you to prefer one thing over another -- even though they may be objectively the same, or even slightly/greatly disparate -- that thing driving your choice is emotion; the preference you have for the choice you make.

As has been said many times: "the heart wants what the heart wants." All attempts to rationalize this basic maxim are acts of folly. (Which is why markets are, have been and always will be unpredictable, no matter how precise the model nor how smart the investor/business leader.)

And whether the heart is motivated by marketing, visual attraction, the search for esteem or something less tangible is really irrelevant -- because the heart wants what the heart wants.
 

zjpj83

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Yes, everything is relative. A fortune to someone is a bagatelle to another.

However, note that just because somebody is wealthy doesn't mean he likes to waste money. As I had more money to spend on things, my threshold of willingness to pay a certain amount of money for a certain item has certainly increased. But like FNB, not matter how much money I had, I still wouldn't pay, say, $1500 for a cashmere sweater. In my opinion, it just doesn't make any sense, no matter how much money you have available. You don't get wealthy by overpaying for things.

All that said, if I had $50 billion, I would probably indulge a number of whims that right now seem ridiculous to me.
 

itsstillmatt

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Originally Posted by Soph
If it wasn't Kiton about 8 months ago, it would be a waste of money. Now if it's not Rubinacci or Anna M. then it's all a waste of money
laugh.gif

Hardly. There is a difference between what somebody likes and prefers and what is a waste of money. Kiton, Rubinacci, Borrelli, Brioni, Oxxford, POLO, Vass etc are all a waste of money. IMO, it is all a waste of money, you are not "investing" in clothes after all. We all waste money on things, it just depends what you want to waste it on. It is useless to make the value judgment that you would waste it on a watch and not a sweater, or on a suit but not a shirt, or on a wine but not a flight etc. None of these things have any intrinsic value. We like to indulge our own wants and fantasies and that is fine. There are plenty of things that I do not like that are not a waste of money. They would be a waste of my money, but that is not the point. A $1500 cashmere sweater would also be a waste of money IMO, I was referring to the ones that they have that go around $500. Not cheap, and a bit of a waste, but better. To me, spending more than $150 on a bottle of wine is a huge waste of money. That doesn't mean that I absolutly won't do it, but it is obscene to me. The same goes for a lot of other things. It is all personal once you realize that you are only spending money so that you get something that you like.
 

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